Bucs open preseason with ugly defeat

by Gary Shelton on August 11, 2023

in general

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Perhaps the Tampa Bay Bucs have been asking the wrong question, after all.

Perhaps the microscope should not be on Baker Mayfield, after all. Perhaps it should be on everyone else.

The Bucs opened their preseason schedule Friday night by falling on their collective noses, losing 27-17 to Pittsburgh, a third-place finisher a year ago. It was the kind of opening statement that hints at mediocrity ahead.

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The Bucs came in with their followers debating, primarily, the quarterback battle between Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Give the first round to Mayfield. He hit eight of nine passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Trask hit six of  10 passes, including an interception.

However, the Rays continued to be haunted by a lack of a running game (66 yards In 26 attempts), of penalties (127 yards worth), of a pedestrian offensive line (especially in short yardage) and of a porous secondary. (Steelers’ starter Kenny Pickett hit  six of seven passes).

“We only had 12 drives, so [when] you get 12 – [if] you get 12 penalties, that kind of negates everything,” said coach Todd Bowles. “W

e’ve got to be better at that and get more disciplined.”

Granted, it was a practice game. But Bucs’ fans probably wanted to see a hint of something to promised change. 

Of course, the Bucs were playing largely with backups. They played without stars such as Vita Vea, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rachaad WhirE, Ryan Jensen, Tristan Wirfs, Carlton Davis, Devin White, Lavonte David, Russell Gage and Shaq Barrett  left the Bucs strapped. After all, how many other Bucs can most fans name?

“(Players) take a lot of reps in practice, and there [are] a lot of guys we wanted to see in live action,” Bowles said.”You can’t make decisions on the young guys in practice – the old guys, you know what they can do or the guys who are experienced, so we wanted to see a lot of the young guys tonight.”

For a team hoping its quarterback can meld with the rest of the team, for a team trying to patch holes, it seemed a questionable logic to play without so many starters. Then again, no one remembers who wins in preseason. But can't some measure of timing and chemistry be achieved?

The Bucs, or some of them, at least, are scheduled to play  at the Jets on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

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